By: Doug Ross
Indiana University Northwest is exploring options to expand course offerings in Michigan City.
Chancellor Ken Iwanna’s remarks came during a reception for IU President Pamela Whitten Tuesday at the Northwest Indiana Education Foundation.
The Economic Development Corporation Michigan City helped organize the reception.
“We’re committed to our future together,” Iwanna said.
EDCMC Executive Director Clarence Hulse said his organization is working with IUN to bring good things to the city.
“We are excited about IU’s leadership visiting our community and we are looking forward to putting future collaborative opportunities into place,” Hulse said. “Education is a key factor in attracting and retaining employees to any community.”
“We want to bring more programs here,” Iwanna said, but raising awareness is key. “We’re starting to test it,” he said.
Iwanna is talking with Aco Sikoski, chancellor of the Ivy Tech Community College campuses in Michigan City and Valparaiso, about a potential partnership.
“We’re going to move on it, but we’re data-driven,” Iwanna said. He wants to make sure programs being offered in Michigan City meet the community’s needs.
Sikoski said Indiana’s goal is to achieve 60% college attainment by 2025. LaPorte County’s educational attainment level, however, is 30%.
Unity Foundation President Maggi Spartz said LaPorte County’s attainment rate is especially low among people of color.
City Council President Angie Nelson Deuitch urged IU to expand in Michigan City. “Eventually we want to see bricks and mortar, and we want to see you in Michigan City.”
“Let’s put some signs up,” urged Katie Eason, president of the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce. “Let’s really solidify that presence here in Michigan City.”
“I’m no stranger to Michigan City,” Iwanna said. “What a place to be.”
“It’s not amazing to you because you know all the work you put into the development, but it’s amazing to all of us” throughout Indiana, he said.
IUN is launching its third cohort for the weekend executive MBA program beginning in January. The intensive program meets on Saturdays and includes an international trip for the students to meet with high-level executives abroad. Students take two classes at a time and finish in 18 months.
“They basically live here for a year and a half,” said Cynthia Roberts, dean of IUN’s School of Business and Economics.
“Michigan City has always had a special place in my heart for decades,” Roberts said. For 10 years, she worked in the same building where the MBA classes will be held.
Whitten was excited to visit Michigan City. “Every time I come to Northwest Indiana, people show up.”
Spend five minutes with IU students if you want to feel better about the future, Whitten urged.
She discussed the three pillars of the university’s 2030 strategic plan: student success, research and scholarship, and public service and outreach.
“We are Indiana’s university,” she said.
IU is committed to affecting health outcomes and status, training the state’s workforce members for their first and subsequent jobs, and persuading graduates to return to Indiana to make the state more livable.
Construction of the Double Track NWI project, drastically reducing the time it takes to commute to Chicago’s Loop by rail, is prompting a residential housing building boom in Michigan City.
EDCMC hosted a private dinner with city leaders, including Mayor Duane Parry, at Pottawattamie Country Club to discuss economic growth in the city and possible future partnerships with IU. Whitten and her team look forward to future partnership opportunities.